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The Ultimate Guide to Daycare Facility Design & Build in Canada

Are you looking to design and build a daycare facility in Canada this year? Before you do, be sure to read our top tips for developing a new childcare facility to get you and your business on the road to success - better and more efficiently!

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The physical environment may either help children develop and support staff and parent goals, or it can be a persistent obstacle to running a high-quality daycare program facility. Creating a high-quality, developmentally appropriate child care facility is a very complicated undertaking that needs specialised and one-of-a-kind abilities. 

The design and layout of the physical environment, which includes the building, interior finishes, outdoor areas, equipment selection, and room arrangement, has a significant influence on children’s learning and conduct, as well as instructors’ ability to execute their duties efficiently.

Children require physical surroundings that are age-appropriate and encourage child-directed and child-initiated play. The child’s engagement with space, objects, and people must be encouraged and positively supported by the daycare environment. Teachers and daycare-providers want highly functioning, user-friendly settings as well. It is simpler for adults to focus on encouraging each child’s play and learning when the setting supports both and works for both children and adults.

Facilities that are unable to sustain a high-quality daycare programme are typically the consequence of well-intended errors. Typically, the problem may be traced back to both the competence of the design participants and the design process. The product is only as excellent as the method by which it is created and the skill of the daycare design players.

Daycare Design & Build in Toronto - GTA General Contractors

The Difficulties of Daycare Design

1. Architects & Designers who have limited Daycare Experience

The first issue is that architects and designers who understand design principles typically have limited expertise of child development and daycare centre operations. Architects and designers frequently build and select ideas that are appealing to them but are neither functional or practical in a daycare or child care centre facility. Some buildings wind up being over-designed architectural monuments, with far too much money spent on the outer facade.

The more money spent on the building’s exterior shell, the less money will be available for inside functional details such as high-quality and safe finishes, appropriate furniture and equipment, an adequate number of sinks, and interior windows/doors – all of which can better support the needs of children and staff.

Another shortcoming of architects is that they frequently fail to recognise that children, unlike adults, cannot adjust to unsuitable design. Despite the fact that there exist anthropometric charts to aid them in making design features the proper heights and depths, architects fail to realise, for example, that a toddler sink that is too high is useless, and one that is too low is hazardous since the children will climb inside. Children are unable to compensate for design flaws in height or depth. To function well, it simply must be age-appropriate the first time. At GTA General Contractors, we have been designing and building daycares and educational facilities for over 30 years and are always on-top of new design and industry changes to provide our clients with leading daycare construction solutions for more efficiently built design-build projects

2. Mixed Communications between Owners and Designers

The second issue that leads to improper daycare design is that directors and educators who know and appreciate children’s needs seldom know how to convert their teaching and administrative abilities to daycare space design and the language used by architects and designers. Most child care practitioners may not be able to provide the finest childcare facility design solutions due to a lack of experience. Practitioners may be unable to recognize the disadvantages of a specific solution due to being hindered by their existing paradigms.

It’s quite tough to recall stuff you’ve never seen or read about. Add to that the fact that practitioners do not speak the same language as architects and designers, and you can understand why a plethora of elements that may result in a high-quality, developmentally appropriate facility go through the cracks.

3. Improper Design Process

The third issue that contributes to bad daycare facility design is the design process itself. The conventional design process involves a series of steps, much like a relay race. The architect takes the baton from the customer, completes the site and floor design, and gives it to the structural engineer.

The structural engineer completes their work and passes the baton to a lengthy line of specialists who build the lighting, electrical and mechanical systems, and interior design one by one. The baton is then transferred to the employees, who choose and arrange the equipment. By then, the architectural design has frequently imposed so many limitations that a quality equipment layout becomes unfeasible.

One of the major issues with this sequential relay technique is that each step of design squeezes the stage behind it, frequently cutting off choices that may have improved quality, reduced costs, and accelerated construction. Another issue is that each individual only sees a small portion of the race; there is no unifying vision to influence the design. Instead of a collaborative effort to build a high-quality, efficient daycare institution, people do the best they can with what is given to them. They forego the advantages of a broad perspective and collaborative innovation.

By the time the picture begins to come together, it may be too late to reverse judgments taken during the first leg of the race without incurring significant time or financial costs. Any additional modifications that are required after the details have been put on construction documents may result in change orders, confusing information, and possibly construction delays.

This traditional method has a particular difficulty in the design of childcare facilities. Many architectural decisions, such as the floor layout, type of construction, and finishing, have already been determined by the time the owner is handed the baton. Often, the daycare facility’s basic design creates an unfavourable atmosphere for children and adults, but the flexibility to remedy the underlying design flaws has been lost.

 
Daycare Design & Build in Toronto - GTA General Contractors

Best Approach to Collaborative Daycare Design

Concurrent design, according to our team here at GTA General Contractors, produces high-quality, developmentally suitable daycare & educational facilities. Concurrent design entails bringing together all of the specialists who will design and run the facility at the same time. Everyone steps into the sandbox at the same time, with professionals from many fields collaborating as members of a multi-disciplinary, cross-functional daycare facility design team from the start.

The concurrent daycare design & build process is driven by program goals, curriculum, children’s needs, staff requirements, and parents’ needs. Prior to creating the physical space, other concerns such as furniture and equipment, as well as development and running costs, must be addressed at the outset of the process. Everything affects everything else.

Parental involvement may need more classroom square footage than is required by provincial licensing criteria. Provincial licensing regulations are only minimums, not quality standards. Outdoor spaces built for urban use may have different durability and vandalism concerns than outdoor areas meant for rural use.

Another example is that some cultural factors will have an impact on the design process. Several cultures with whom we have worked were concerned about privacy concerns in the toddler change table area. In order to be culturally appropriate, we modify our design concepts to suit their needs. Cultural awareness and expertise are essential components of effective daycare design.

The design team must be well-structured and attentive to feedback from staff, parents, and the community. Child care, early childhood education, child development, daycare design, children’s environmental design, infant/toddler care, architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, nature-based outdoor play space design, value engineering, acoustics for children, participatory design, start-up and operating budgets, equipment selection, cultural competency, universal design for children with disabilities, etc.

Step #1: Preliminary Site Visit with Chosen Daycare Design-Build Team

Whether you are working on a daycare remodelling or developing a new childcare facility, the design process involves several phases that design professionals must grasp. The first stage will be to do a preliminary site visit to meet with key personnel, parents, and, in certain cases, children. The daycare design needs will emerge from this discussion, including the age and number of children, group sizes, personnel, curriculum goals, range of activities, designated spaces, square footage requirements, relevant regulations/standards, and aesthetic areas.

An inventory will be compiled and photographs will be taken of the site, existing structures, location of trees, identification of existing plant material, location of the sun, site drainage, and the condition of the building mechanicals and existing mechanical and electrical systems, if applicable, during the site visit.

Step #2: Develop a Conceptual Design for your Daycare or Childcare Facility

The second stage is to develop a conceptual daycare space design to determine what would work best for your daycare facility and to establish an overall idea of the building or area. If drawings for owner review are included in this stage, they will most likely be what are known as space layout plans, which are used to work out adjacency and size concerns with no detail. The following phase is schematic design, which includes a drawing that defines building specifications, relationships, basic furniture arrangements, floor plans, mechanical and structural elements, and other aspects.

Step #3: Create and Develop Architectural, Design & Engineering Plans

The procedure concludes with the creation of daycare construction plans and specifications, as well as the final selection of all furniture and equipment. These final construction documents are the exact blueprints that the general contractor will use to create an accurate quote and to construct the building. It is difficult and expensive to make modifications after building or remodelling a daycare has begun.

The set of drawings and specifications that you have received contain many details that you will not need to understand; however, they also contain a wide variety of details that must be executed properly for a high-quality daycare facility construction, such as toilet heights, sink heights, sink depth, door locations, flooring material, window coverings, lighting, and acoustics, to name a few.

All of these features were created to help children, teachers, and parents make the most use of the area. Changes to these papers, as well as furniture and equipment, should not be made without first addressing the implications of design changes for children and staff with the daycare design team. A suitable, high-quality daycare construction plan, specifications, and furniture and equipment choices will be useless if the facility is not constructed properly.

The Difficulties of Daycare Design

2. Mixed Communications between Owners and Designers

The second issue that leads to improper daycare design is that directors and educators who know and appreciate children’s needs seldom know how to convert their teaching and administrative abilities to daycare space design and the language used by architects and designers. Most child care practitioners may not be able to provide the finest childcare facility design solutions due to a lack of experience. Practitioners may be unable to recognize the disadvantages of a specific solution due to being hindered by their existing paradigms.

It’s quite tough to recall stuff you’ve never seen or read about. Add to that the fact that practitioners do not speak the same language as architects and designers, and you can understand why a plethora of elements that may result in a high-quality, developmentally appropriate facility go through the cracks.

3. Improper Design Process

The third issue that contributes to bad daycare facility design is the design process itself. The conventional design process involves a series of steps, much like a relay race. The architect takes the baton from the customer, completes the site and floor design, and gives it to the structural engineer.

The structural engineer completes their work and passes the baton to a lengthy line of specialists who build the lighting, electrical and mechanical systems, and interior design one by one. The baton is then transferred to the employees, who choose and arrange the equipment. By then, the architectural design has frequently imposed so many limitations that a quality equipment layout becomes unfeasible.

One of the major issues with this sequential relay technique is that each step of design squeezes the stage behind it, frequently cutting off choices that may have improved quality, reduced costs, and accelerated construction. Another issue is that each individual only sees a small portion of the race; there is no unifying vision to influence the design. Instead of a collaborative effort to build a high-quality, efficient daycare institution, people do the best they can with what is given to them. They forego the advantages of a broad perspective and collaborative innovation.

By the time the picture begins to come together, it may be too late to reverse judgments taken during the first leg of the race without incurring significant time or financial costs. Any additional modifications that are required after the details have been put on construction documents may result in change orders, confusing information, and possibly construction delays.

This traditional method has a particular difficulty in the design of childcare facilities. Many architectural decisions, such as the floor layout, type of construction, and finishing, have already been determined by the time the owner is handed the baton. Often, the daycare facility’s basic design creates an unfavourable atmosphere for children and adults, but the flexibility to remedy the underlying design flaws has been lost.

 

Conclusion

Building a child care facility is a complicated and time-consuming procedure. Understanding the multifaceted issues and complexities of designing daycare environments allows you to better select and collaborate with a qualified daycare design-build company capable of delivering the high quality, comprehensive, and integrated design solutions required for a child care facility to meet the needs of staff, parents, the community, and the children.

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